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Tuesday December 12, 2006 - 20:59:18 GMT
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Forex: Westpac Institutional Bank Morning Report

New Zealand Dollar NZD grinds its way higher
It was a quiet day for the NZD as the currency consolidated within a 0.6865 – 0.6900 range, again failing to hold above resistance at 0.6900. Some initial selling was noted but, like previous days, buyers weren’t far away to take advantage of the dip, consequently limiting any significant downside correction. The overnight announcement of a new three-year bond issue by GE for $100m saw the currency grind higher, and we open today higher on all major cross rates.

Australian Dollar: AUD continues to range trade
Yesterday saw the AUD consolidate, albeit with a cautious upward bias, as the markets anticipated that the Reserve Bank would indicate a tightening monetary policy bias via a speech that was to be delivered by the RBA’s governor overnight. However the markets were disappointed when he made no comment of interest rates or the current economy in that speech, instead focussing on the housing cycle, business investment and the economic outlook. The Nov NAB business survey fell a seasonally adjusted 4 points to 14, reversing the previous month’s rise.

Major Currencies: USD steady ahead of FOMC
The USD remained largely steady against other major currencies overnight as the market awaits the FOMC rate announcement. The release of better than expected trade data, which showed a narrowing of the deficit to $58.87bn, boosted the USD, which rallied to a 117.20 high against the yen. The euro weakened from a high of 1.3268, dipping to 1.3206, despite EU and German defence of ECB policy following criticism from French politicians. Sterling performed strongly, rallying to an overnight high of 1.9684. UK retail price inflation was reported at 3.9% y/y, the highest level since 1998, with CPI at 2.7% y/y, well above the BoE’s 2.0% target. The euro and yen open this morning at 1.3230 and 117.10 respectively, with Sterling seen at 1.9645.

Japanese corporate goods prices rose 2.7%yr in Nov. That compares to a 2.8% pace in Oct. Domestic demand related goods prices were flat on a year ago, up from a small decline in the prior month. Adding imports gives a small rise.

Fed remains on hold. The key changes to the statement wording were centred on activity: the cooling in the housing market was now referred to as substantial, and the mixed nature of recent indicators was noted. Other than that, the Fed still sees the main inflation risk as being to the upside. But the slowing economic momentum remains enough to keep the Fed sitting on the sidelines. Lacker continues to dissent in favour of hiking, but has yet to be joined by another FOMC member. We expect the Fed will remain on the sidelines through 2007: no hike in the short term but not easing as swiftly as market pricing currently implies.

US Oct trade deficit shrinks. At $58.9bn the trade deficit was milder than even our sub-consensus forecast. A$3.9bn reduction in net petroleum imports helped, but ex-petroleum the deficit narrowed $1.5bn. The improvement came mainly through a 2.7% drop in imports (largely oil). Exports were fairly flat at 0.2%, held back by lower aircraft exports.

German ZEW survey lifts. The November survey of analysts showed a substantial improvement to -19 from -28.5, the survey's first lift since it began sliding in February to its lowest level since early 1993. Nevertheless, the survey still implies very subdued underlying growth heading into year-end.

UK Nov CPI a shade high. The CPI rose 0.3% m/m, pushing inflation up to 2.7% against 2.6% expected and the highest read in the near 10-year history of this particular inflation measure. Core inflation picked up to 1.6% and has been trending up over the most recent 4 breads. This number will add fuel to the rate hike debate.

Canadian trade balance as expected. The October surplus of CAD3.8bn was bang on market expectations, though September's surplus was revised up by CAD500mn.

Events Today
Country Release Last Forecast
NZ Nov Food Price Index 0.3% -0.4%
Aust Dec WBC-MI Consumer Sentiment 95.0 n/f
US Nov Retail Sales/Ex Autos -0.4%/-0.4% flat/0.1%
Jpn Oct Current Account ¥bn 1409 1600
Oct Capacity Utilisation - Level 105.8 107.1
UK Nov Unemployment chg 1.2k 5k
Can Oct Auto Sales -4.2% -2.0%
Q3 Capacity Utilisation 85.5% 85.2%

Latest Research papers/Publication
• NZ Q3 Terms of Trade (11 December)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (11 December)
• RBNZ Dec MPS Review (7 December)
• NZ labour market: purging the excesses? (6 December)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (4 December)
• RBNZ Dec MPS Preview (30 November)
• NZ Weekly Forex Outlook (27 November)
• NZ Interest Rate Strategy Weekly (22 November)
These papers/publications are available on Online Research on Westpac
Institutional Bank’s website (

Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 incorporated in Australia (NZ division). Information current as at 24 May 2005. All customers please note that this information has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this you should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness, having regard to your objectives, financial situation or needs. Australian customers can obtain Westpac's financial services guide by calling +612 9284 8372, visiting or visiting any Westpac Branch. The information may contain material provided directly by third parties, and while such material is published with permission, Westpac accepts no responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of any such material. Except where contrary to law, Westpac intends by this notice to exclude liability for the information. The information is subject to change without notice and Westpac is under no obligation to update the information or correct any inaccuracy which may become apparent at a later date. Westpac Banking Corporation is regulated for the conduct of investment business in the United Kingdom by the Financial Services Authority. © 2004 Westpac Banking Corporation. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. The forecasts given in this document are predictive in character. Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure that the assumptions on which the forecasts are based are reasonable, the forecasts may be affected by incorrect assumptions or by known or unknown risks and uncertainties. The ultimate outcomes may differ substantially from these forecasts.


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AA 1:30 AU- Employment
AA 08:30 GB- Retail Sales
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